An image is described: a photograph cut out of the newspaper in which a raging crowd is in the act of plundering a millionaire’s home. In the foreground, an oil painting is held aloft by several people: it’s the portrait of the millionaire. The photo was taken in the 1990s, when ethnic Chinese businessmen living in Indonesia were rumored to have caused the economic crisis of the time and suddenly found themselves in danger. The narrator describes the photograph in painstaking detail; she literally reconstructs the photograph in words. What is the mental image that results from this description, and what relationship does it bear to the original photograph? It’s about the description of an image of an image here: a text about the printed photograph of a portrait painted on canvas of a man who has fled for his life only moments before—an oil painting that was destroyed seconds after the picture was taken.
Read the full conversation at 3 Quarks Daily.
The original German version can be read at Jitter: Magazin für Kunst und visuelle Kultur.
Announcing a new book to come—please direct questions to Gudrun Hebel at the Agentur Literatur in Berlin and Soumeya Roberts at HG Agency, New York. The German-language rights have been sold to Literaturverlag Droschl in Graz, Austria.
Joy Amina Garnett is an Egyptian American artist and writer living in New York. Her work, which spans creative writing, painting, installation art, and social media-based projects, reflects how past, present, and future narratives can co-exist through ‘the archive’ in its various forms. She has been working on a memoir and several other projects around the life and work of her late grandfather, the Egyptian Romantic poet and bee scientist A.Z. Abushady (1892–1955).
Joy Garnett: “Growing up, his ghost was all around me, the stuff of fairy tales, but I didn’t have a real sense of him as a person. My mother and aunt put him on a pedestal—their father, the famous Egyptian poet and doctor. Much literary criticism has been written about his poetry, so I spent years reading and absorbing as much as I could while trying to put together a more intimate and complex picture of him. As an undergraduate, I studied classical and spoken Arabic, and recently I took a series of hands-on beekeeping classes.”
Read the conversation here.
Caricature of A.Z. Abushady by the Persian/Alexandrian cartoonist, Mohamed Fridon (ca. 1928)
In the December 28, 2018 edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Esther Kinsky, acclaimed author of River and Hain, chose A Lesser Day as her favorite book of 2018:
“In A Lesser Day (German edition: Wie viele Tage, Droschl 2018), Andrea Scrima addresses, with poetic intensity, alienation and non-belonging as a state of mind in a life lived between two locations toward the end of the twentieth century. The first-person narrator—an artist—was born in New York and lives in Berlin; occasionally, she returns home to her native city. Without giving rise to an hierarchy of impressions, the narrator records everyday life between the present and a remembered past in miniatures that brim with sensory input. Everything is equally important, like the components in a mosaic. The resulting whole, both subtle and haunting, is made up of fragments of fragile places. The density of moods is remarkable; it allows the weather, light, smells, and colors to become physically alive.”
— Esther Kinsky
Read the interview here.
David Krippendorff: Without wanting to sound naive, first and foremost I hope that my work has a strong emotional impact. Every initial idea I ever had for a piece always started with an emotional reaction to something, be it a film or a piece of music. Throughout the process, I then conceptualize it and parse out the various political subtexts and interpretive layers. I do think that all art is political, but I am also a great believer that art should be more visceral. We live in times in which nobody trusts their feelings anymore; our society is becoming increasingly cerebral. I think this is a very dangerous trend, because remaining in touch with one’s feelings is also the first step toward empathy. When we’re detached, it becomes much easier to turn a blind eye to injustice; we fail to see the humanity in a homeless person we pass by on the street. I strongly believe that the role of art should be to help people get in touch with their feelings. To me, this becomes political, and it’s the only way that it can have an impact and make a change. We have enough “interesting” art, but how often does somebody go to a show and say: “That was really moving,” or “That was beautiful”?
“Letting You in on a Secret is a work that reflects on this very depletion of language and mass imagery, a work that proposes and articulates new and surprising ways to recalibrate our perception, to shake ourselves and our stunned senses awake. DeLuccia’s formal reference to Dada provides us with an important clue to the work’s subtly subversive nature: in citing a movement that would presage and then endure the advent of fascism, mass extermination, and world war, she is pointing to the necessity of encoding explosive cultural commentary in humor and visually appealing imagery, of going underground with it, as it were—both to protect one’s powers of perception and to counter the effects of the spellbinding that numbs us to the dangers facing us.”
On a panel at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Berlin Polylingual—Parataxe Symposium IV.
Photo: Graham Hains.
Ich möchte gerne mit einer Behauptung anfangen: Eine deutsche Nationalliteratur muss nicht unbedingt auf Deutsch geschrieben sein.
Zahlreiche nichtdeutschsprachige Autoren, von denen viele seit Jahrzehnten in Deutschland leben, haben ihre Verlage, ihre gesamte Infrastruktur, ihre Leser hier. Nicht wenige werden primär im deutschsprachigen Raum wahrgenommen; die meisten bewegen sich zwischen Kulturen und sind als Essayisten, Kritiker, Moderatoren, usw. aktiv im Austausch zwischen den Sprachen. Dies alles übt einen enormen Einfluss auf die deutschsprachige Literatur aus und beleuchtet auch Themen in der Gesellschaft und der Politik, die vielleicht nur von „vertrauten Fremden“ beleuchten werden können.
Und doch: angesichts der immer fremdenfeindlicher werdenden Atmosphäre, angesichts der Tatsache, dass die AfD die Kultur als Kampffeld für sich entdeckt hat und nun u.a. die Strategie der parlamentarischen Anfragen verfolgt, um sozialkritische Arbeiten zu diffamieren und die Kulturförderung an sich immer wieder in Frage zu stellen, ist eine derartige Behauptung höchst politisch.
— full text to be published soon.
With Martin Jankowski, Eugen Ruge, Anne Fleig, and Mitja Vachedin.
Photos: Graham Hains.